At the end of every school year, which is over a 40-year tradition at St. Vincent's Academy, the Saints honor an outstanding athlete, and the award is known as the Neal Tonks Award.
The St. Vincent Academy winner must have shown the three ideals of SVA during the school year while playing at least two varsity sports. These ideals are mercy charism, honesty, and sportsmanship. SVA announced the winner on Friday, May 20th.
The 41st winner of the Neal Tonks Award was junior Caroline Ryan. According to Dawn Odom, Principal of SVA, Ryan is the sixth junior to win the award. "She is just an amazing kid," said Odom.
Caroline Ryan - St. Vincent's Academay Athletics Social Media
Caroline is a five sport varsity athlete at St. Vincent's Academy. In the fall, Caroline played volleyball and helped lead her team into the top 16 teams in the state. She was 2nd Team All-Region and was second in blocks in the region with 45 blocks, and 113 kills this season.
Caroline also played Flag Football in the fall for the Saint's first-ever team. She helped this team win the Area Championship and make it into the Elite 8 in State Playoffs.
Caroline played basketball for the Saints in the winter and received first Team All-Region honors. Caroline was awarded Best Defensive Player for the Saints and received the Herbie Griffin Free Throw Award. Caroline averaged 6.6 rebounds per game.
Caroline threw discus and shot put for the Saints Track and Field team in the spring. She also is the top golfer and team captain at St. Vincent's Academy, hitting an average of 95 on 18 holes.
Each year, the coaches, administrators, and teachers involved with athletics nominate individuals that best represent the ideals of SVA and letter in a minimum for two varsity sports. The Neal Tonks Award was founded in 1982 by Jane Tonks, a science teacher, and her husband, Neal. The Tonks were enormous supporters of SVA Athletics. The first winner in 1982 was Stephanie Summerlin.
The individuals receive a trophy, have their name engraved on the Neal Tonks Trophy, and add their picture to the collection of women who received this honor before them in the SVA gym foyer. Jane Tonks was a science teacher that worked at St. Vincent's Academy from 1972 until she retired in 1992.
"Caroline leads by example in all the sports she participates in. She is positive, dedicated, and always willing to do whatever is needed," said Athletic Director Nichols St. Louis. "Caroline volunteered to work at a middle school volleyball tournament during all of her seasons and worked every day at our middle school basketball tournament over her Christmas holiday. She is a joy to have on all of these teams and represents SVA with honor!"
Photo Credit: Terri Foote